Light is kept in the 'core' of the optical fiber by total internal reflection. This causes the fiber to act as a waveguide. Fibers which support many propagation paths or transverse modes are called multi-mode fibers (MMF). Fibers which can only support a single mode are called single-mode fibers (SMF). Multi-mode fibers generally have a larger core diameter, and are used for short-distance communication links and for applications where high power must be transmitted. Single-mode fibers are used for most communication links longer than 200 meters.
Joining lengths of optical fiber is more complex than joining electrical wire or cable. The ends of the fibers must be carefully cleaved, and then spliced together either mechanically or by fusing them together with an electric arc. Special connectors are used to make removable connections.